Advent, Listening and a Call to Prayer

During the course of my “ministry” there has been little time for listening and deep prayer over this past year, as I continue to actively spread the word “Faith formation is job #1” in the lives of Catholic dads and those of their children. Especially, since there have been over 15,000 page views to since November 2008. With that, I have felt the continued passion to encourage dads of all ages (and on any social networking platform I can post on) to be mindful of our important role in the faith formation of our children. Oh, I pray all the time like most faithful dads, but not in a way where I am disposed to even a deeper conversion of the type that causes a wonderful fear of God's obvious actions in one's life. Lately, I know in my core, this is something I am longing for. It may well be the same experience I felt when I took a one day personal / silent retreat at Prince of Peace Abbey, where I found myself “captivated by my Lord” in January 2008. That retreat was the catalyst for becoming a novice oblate and for all events and challenges (painful and not) I now find myself engaged in, and ultimately for the better of my soul and and the souls of others.

As Advent approaches tomorrow, I am listening for Jesus and I have purchased A Companion to the Liturgy of the Hours: Morning and Evening Prayer, along with my first copy of Christian Prayer.

I'm listening....and concurrently shedding many distractions in my life that I have come to realize have been nothing more than chatter to leave me unfulfilled by not acutely hearing what the Lord has to say; the distractions are of the type you find yourself competing with in a nice restaurant where the patrons maintain a dull roar preventing one and a dear friend from connecting on a deeper level that both know is there, but find themselves dissatisfied as the circumstance need to be willfully changed. It is only when one or both say, “Let's get out of here” do they create an opportunity to embark on a stroll to discover what it is they long to connect on.

And, that is where I find myself. Listening in anticipation of connecting with my Savior and wonderfully fearful of what it is that will unfold and the deep prayer that is likely to follow. How do you prepare for Advent? Is your prayer life what you would like it to be?


I am pleased my children do not know my current struggles. The Lord and very personal friends and family have been my mainstay. As I sort through some of life's greatest challenges, and while some would consider I am experiencing much loss, I think about what I am thankful for. Here are what is most important to me:

"I have the laughter of my children, their warm embrace, their little stories, and our 'bug hunts' at night. We pray when they go to bed and when they get up; when their friends are sad, for their mom when they miss her, their grandfather who died not long ago, and for others who are less fortunate. We attend Mass during the week. And, we visit our place of worship and still volunteer to clean the area around a Marian statue where others meditate. We tickle each other, we sing together, we talk about silly stuff, and we have a usual routine at night (three nights a week).

My oldest (5 years) shares her insights about life, and tells me new things she is learning everyday at school. My youngest (3 years) makes the sign of the cross by tapping her head three times, and I tell her 'That's perfect, Babe...Good job.' And, she likes to run around during Mass, as I stand their solemnly praying, with one eye open to see she doesn't get too far (okay the tears are really there now). We pray the Lord's Prayer, and we say the Rosary together. We have 'faith reading' and 'Anything we want, Papa?' I love washing their clothes, and trying to keep house for them (though I just hate losing those little socks and not find one or the other's mate in the washer, when I know I put both of them in). And I love making them breakfast, and lunch, packing their snack, and drawing funny faces on their snack bag.

I love helping with homework, and taking their pictures, as they love taking them of me, us and whatever catches their eye at the moment. And, when we used to go out more than we do now, I love watching them be independent and order their own food. I love giving my oldest the opportunity to plan with me the night's course of activities...'Let's see, what is your preference, homework first, bath, dinner, faith reading, movie, get ready for school? What's it going to be?' She loves contributing to our family routine, and doesn't know I'm helping her prioritize, sort, and develop executive functioning skills. I love my little one enjoying the bubbles of her bath, and watching her give her bath toys new life. I love hearing her sing, as she splashes about. And I love my oldest wanting to help me in every way, and having to remind myself to reinforce those skills and teaching moments, even when tired and believing I 'need to get this done.'

I love being called in the middle of night, 'Papa!! Papa!!' for a glass of water, or because an 'accident' occurred, and a change is needed. I love them riding on my shoulders, and pulling my hair until it hurts. I love watching them hug their friends, call their names as if their friends will be for life (and some may be). I love their memories, as they remind me, 'Papa, you said...' and being able to say, 'You are right...Thank you, for reminding me...' I love them growing so fast, their clothes are still new. I love drizzling honey from three feet above the cereal bowl, as they try to interrupt the stream with their little fingers that get 'all sticky'. I love their little shoes, hairbands, broken crayons, perfect drawings, unmade bed, and cuts and scrapes that apparently and magically become better with a small kiss and a hug.

For this, and so much more, I am eternally thankful to my Lord."

"Come what may, girls, I am happy to see you grow. And, with our Lord, we will overcome. Always remember Romans 8:38-39. "

Love, Papa

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Posted: 11.20.2009
Updated: 11.26.2013